January 10, 2023

By Ramona du Houx

The Sisters in Arms Center (SIAC) has been instrumental this past year helping women veterans with its Executive Director Rebecca Cornell du Houx and SIAC Board Member Maeghan Maloney, State of Maine District Attorney of Somerset & Kennebec Counties, working on the Advisory Council on Military Sexual Trauma, established by Governor Janet Mills through an Executive Order earlier this year. The Advisory Council works to ensure that survivors of harassment or assault in the military are being connected to all available resources and to improve the Maine National Guard’s responses to assault and harassment within its ranks.

Last year,  LD 625, became law and directed the Maine National Guard to evaluate what actions could be taken at the State level to strengthen or improve the Guard’s response to sexual harassment and assault. Women whom have had professional consulting at SIAC came forth and testified on LD 625, telling their personal stories. (photos of the bills signing below)

The report’s recommendations came out December 1, 2022 for how the Maine National Guard can further improve its response to sexual assault and sexual harassment within its ranks focuses on how to improve the coordination of state and local law enforcement, prosecutors, and National Guard personnel as they respond to individual cases.

“This year (2022) our home provided empowerment for over 30 service members and veterans, either through providing a comfortable home, peer support, clothing (and other basic necessities), wellness plans, and connecting to other local organizations. We would not have been able to reopen without the support of the community, which we are incredibly grateful for all the local VSO’s and individual donors who have shown unwavering support either through volunteering or financial donations. We want thank them all for keeping us strong,” said Rebecca Cornell du Houx, Sisters in Arms Center – Executive Director, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Commissioned Officer MEARNG. “With the price of oil and food skyrocketing SIAC is in critical need of financial assistance to get through the winter. If anyone would like to support us by helping us meet the heating costs of the house, we would be incredibly grateful.”

The Sisters in Arms Center (SIAC) is a non-profit that provides transitional housing for women veterans who have found themselves homeless out of no fault of their own. The Center also offers guidance for them and their children. SIAC’s objective is to help their sisters-in-arms feel safe and secure as the SIAC team assists residents in becoming self-sufficient.

Now the Center is in need because of fossil fuel increases. When Putin invaded Ukraine he knew the price of oil he would fuel an oil crisis. The ripple effect has been that leading oil companies have taken advantage of the war to profit. Here in Maine, we’ve all experienced gas prices that have left families in need. The Sisters in Arms Center in Augusta, a safe haven for women veterans, has also been hit hard by the added expenses.

Please help the Sisters in Arms Center keep women veterans warm this winter. They need donations: https://www.barhh.org/ways-to-help/

The home is spacious with a welcoming atmosphere reminiscent of when one visits mom or nana. Eight separate rooms are cozy, have two beds, and vast storage capacity. There’s even a family room for children to play.

The home is old and spacious but unfortunately that means it is very expensive to heat in the winter. The Center has covered windows and put in weatherization measures but is aware more should be done. SIAC hopes to become more energy efficient— that too requires donations.

Please visit their website at: https://www.barhh.org/news/

(SIAC was formerly known as the Betsy Ann Ross House of Hope).